All we like sheep

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Saturday 18 December 2010

Handel's Messiah is a wonderful piece of music, and rich with bible quotes about the, that's right you guessed it, the Messiah.

Apart from the chorus, and a couple of other favourite parts, I really like the "All we like sheep" chorus.

This particular chorus is based on a passage from the Old testament book of Isaiah. It is written approximately 700 years before Jesus, talking about a servant who will one day come to serve (obviously because he is a servant) but also to suffer. The verse that is sung about is from Chapter 53, verse 6:

"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."

Before I became a Christian I didn't understand this passage at all, and the idea that every person lives their own way, and that justice is only achieved by God laying the sins of the world on this "suffering servant".

Part of the confusion was just hearing the first few words "All we like sheep" and the possible responses:

"Well, yes I don't mind lamb, but I prefer chicken"
"No I do not, I relieve myself the same way as any other normal human being"
"Yes I am like every other human being, gone astray, lost and wondering on my own way in great need of a shepherd"

If you do see and hear the Messiah this year, I hope you enjoy it.


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